BRUNSWICK, Maine — Rather than spend more than $1 million to repair or replace the crumbling car deck beneath the Black Bridge, state transportation officials have said they will spend a quarter of that amount to demolish it.
Brunswick and Topsham officials, too, are loathe to contribute any funds to the project in a time when both towns are cutting services and raising taxes to fill Fiscal Year 2013 budget holes.
The bridge, stretching over the Androscoggin River between Water Street in Brunswick and Bridge Street in Topsham, was built in 1909 and has been repaired several times. The steel rail crossing remains structurally sound. However, the narrow single-lane car deck – made of timber and suspended beneath the steel — has been deteriorating for years.
Maine Department of Transportation closed the car deck in April 2011 because it no longer was safe. Additionally, MDOT notified both towns that it planned to demolish the car deck sometime in 2014.
Estimated cost of the removal project is $250,000, according to Bruce Van Note, MDOT’s deputy commissioner.
In late May, Brunswick Town Councilor John Perreault attended an MDOT meeting in Topsham to discuss the bridge’s condition and future.
“Of the 27,000 bridges in the state, they basically said that the Black Bridge ‘is 26,999th on the list of priorities,’” Perreault said, paraphrasing the state’s position.